Thursday, April 19, 2012

You Had me at Woof!

Have you ever fallen in love at first sight?
That’s how it was for our dog Toby and I. Christopher, my husband, showed me Toby’s picture on the NASAP adoption website, and I saw this big happy face, gorgeous brown eyes and the biggest pink tongue I had ever seen. It was love at first sight.  We applied for the adoption of Toby and were delighted to welcome Toby into our family. In my book On Toby’s Terms ( I talk about the interesting time we had adopting Toby and what happened when we brought him home.  This seemingly perfect dog turned into quite the incorrigible dog breaking toilet tank lids, turning water taps on and routinely emptying closets and rearranging the furniture. Getting Toby a job, a purpose helped us rechanneled his energy and put it to good use, spreading kindness and joy wherever he went, including the hospital where he volunteered for 4 ½ years as a pet assisted therapy dog. Toby became a teacher for us, teaching us about unconditional love, patience, persistence and the importance of trusting your pet.
My friend Laura Marlowe, author of a beautiful book Tommy the Throw way Dog and I talked about the importance of animal adoption and rescue organizations. Laura explained that adoption was what saved Tommy the dog’s life. He suffered terrible abuse from his first owners who literally threw him away. Thanks to the compassion of a city worker who rescued Tommy, and brought him to safety, Tommy was adopted by a loving family, which is what inspired Laura to write the book.  You can hear more about adoption, Tommy’s story and Laura’s interview on PAWsitive Radio with Charmaine at:
My friend Craig Haverstick and I also enjoyed a conversation about adoption. He volunteers with the Chesapeake Bay retriever Rescue and Relief organization and has fostered and adopted dogs. Craig said something that really stuck with me… for pet owners to find ways to ensure their adopted pet becomes a life time member of the family, and does not get returned to a shelter.  The ways that you can make your pet a lifetime family member are to:
-         Ensure you seek professional advice (vet, trainer, behaviourist, pet rescue and shelter staff, breeders) when facing challenges with your dog
-         Get the proper training so that your dog can be the best it can be
-         Find ways to socialize your dog (off leash parks, dog beaches, doggie day cares, going for walks, etc.)
Toby’s behaviour was such that on  a few occasions we contemplated returning him to the shelter, but love won over and we got help instead. Finding Toby a job, giving him jobs at home, participating in training and agility classes, increasing the socialization opportunities all helped Toby’s separation anxiety lessen and improved his behaviour.  Some of our most cherished moments were with Toby… on his terms.  You can listen to the interview with Craig and learn more about pet rescue, water sports for dogs and helping your dog become a lifelong family member here:

To find out more about Laura’s book, Tommy The Throw Away Dog visit:

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